Monday, July 28, 2014

How to make sure no one will report the next time

From a Washington Post report on the CDC anthrax problem:

Farrell had been reassigned following the June incident, and his future at the CDC was uncertain before his resignation this week. Sean Kaufman, a biosafety expert who also testified at last week’s congressional hearing on lab issues at the CDC, said Farrell had unfairly been made a scapegoat.

“Michael immediately reported this incident. He did what he needed to do as a scientist. And when he did that, the repercussion was a loss of a job,” said Kaufman, a former CDC employee who conducted a training in Farrell’s lab as recently as this spring. “This is nothing but pointing a finger and holding a scientist responsible for something that’s a systemic issue within an organization.”

Kaufman said the hasty departure of Farrell, whom he described as a meticulous scientist, father of two boys and Navy veteran, could discourage other employees from reporting future lab incidents and ultimately undermine safety.

And how motivational is this?

“These events should never have happened,” CDC Director Tom Frieden said, even as he noted that no one had been sickened or harmed. “I’m disappointed, and frankly I’m angry about it.”

Hey, man, this was on your watch.  You arrived in June 2009.  And you were not a stranger to the place, having worked there from 1990 to 2002. 

It is better for a leader to take ownership than to blame others.


The Medical Contrarian said...

Well stated. Sounds like another Federal entity in the news recently...

nonlocal MD said...

Unfortunately they fire somebody because that is what is expected. We do not know how much pressure was exerted from outside forces (read Congress or the White House) to find a scapegoat. That is how these people think. It points up how far we have to go in patient safety when the highest-ups in the land are still into the blame culture.
The only organizations who seem to have escaped this game are in the aviation industry. It would be interesting to know how they got ahead of the blame game and garnered everyone's respect to do it their way - it sure hasn't spread beyond them.